By Tom Fenton

A longtime development project in Champlin took another step toward reality on Monday night as the city council unanimously approved all phases of the Mississippi Crossing project at the Aug. 24 Champlin City Council meeting.

The council officially approved a resolution for approving a final planned unit development and adoption of ordinance amending the city of Champlin zoning map relative o the Champlin Mississippi Crossing Second Addition. The development plan, which includes a 214-unit rental housing community on 4.2 acres located north of State Highway 169 and East River Parkway. The project also includes an amphitheater, public docks, restaurant and event center, and is expected to break ground in a ceremony on Sept. 10.

“I’m ecstatic of the idea about this project coming to this community,” Mayor Ryan Karasek said. “This has been a long time coming.”

The 160-acre Mississippi Crossings area abuts the Mississippi River south of the historic Anoka-Champlin bridge and sits at the north end of the six-mile Mississippi River Recreational Pool.

In the mid-1800’s, the Crossings was a landing area for migrating steamboats and home to the Anoka-Champlin ferry service. In the 1900’s, the area blossomed into a vibrant central business district surrounded by growing neighborhoods. More recently, the Crossings has consisted of obsolete commercial structures, dilapidated apartment buildings and vacant lots. Since 1980, the area has seen limited re-investment, declining tax base while city services have grown.

In 1999, a 26-member citizen task force recommended the city rejuvenate the Mississippi riverfront and old business district. Soon after, the city adopted a Redevelopment Plan that proposed a series of mixed-use and residential and commercial developments along the riverfront. Besides the historic, cultural and geographical significances, the site offers panoramic views of the Twin Cities region.

In July 2019, the city entered into a pre-development agreement with Greco to be “master developer” of 12-acres in the heart of Mississippi Crossings. The city and Greco share a vision for this area that includes a significant residential component as well as an activation of the riverfront in the Mississippi Pointe Park area with a mix of uses, according to the city’s website.

WATER METER PROJECT

The council also approved a resolution approving plans and specifications to accept bids for a city-wide water meter replacement project. Bids for the $2.8 million project will be accepted in September, with replacement set to begin in November.

Utilities Superintendent Dave Stifter told the council they will need to gain access to residents’ homes to determine whether their home uses a sump pump or a well. City staff will be taking pictures with an iPad, but Stifter stressed they will not be recording any personal information.

Mayor Karasek asked if the city had a plan on the picture-taking process to help put residents’ fears of “Big Brother” entering their homes.

“We’re developing that plan,” Stifter said. “We’re not taking any pictures of people’s homes. We’re just trying to determine where the water is. As the project unfolds, we’ll be trying to put people at ease, but most conversations have been positive.”

VOTING SITE CHANGES

In a release last week, city officials announced a change in sites for in-person absentee voting in Champlin for the Nov. 3 General Election. In-person absentee voting will be at the Champlin Ice Form, 12165 Ensign Ave. N. This is a change from the state primary election, which was at City Hall. The change was made due to the need for additional space due to COVID-19.

Absentee voting for the general election will begin Friday, Sept. 18. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. There will be extended hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on October 31 and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 2.

In-person absentee ballots will be available until 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2. With the exception that those unable to go to the polls on Election Day (Nov. 3), as authorized under the laws governing agent delivery, can send an agent to take out a ballot until 2 p.m. and the agent must return the ballot by 3 p.m. All absentee voters can return their completed ballots to the in-person absentee voting site until 3 p.m. on Election Day.

OTHER

In other city news, Richard Kline was introduced as the Anoka-Champlin Interim Fire Chief and gave a brief update on the department.

“Chief Kline has done an unbelievable job of providing leadership and mentorship to our fire department staff in the limited time he has been on board,” Karasek said.

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